Chinese advanced mobility company EHang has announced it has partnered with national police in Spain to examine potential use of the company’s autonomous aerial vehicles (AAV) as official transport options in Spanish security missions, and in responding to emergencies.
The AAV collaboration between EHang and Spain’s Policia Nacional was revealed during the country’s premiere drone event, Expódronica, which is being staged in conjunction with the World Air Traffic Management Congress in Madrid. EHang – which has long been rumored to be consulting with Spanish police about AAV deployment in future operations – stated the two groups are indeed looking into various use case scenarios. It said the pair would continue pursuing discussions of how those craft can be flown as a means of modernizing Spain’s law enforcement assets, while seeking to eliminate the carbon emissions of current transport options.
The move marks a significant inroad for EHang as it moves its craft through testing, certification, and ultimate AAV operation by urban mobility service providers and public organizations around the world. It’s also a noteworthy partnership for a major, strategic Chinese company to establish with a European national law enforcement body during a time of worsening US-China relations that have complicated European Union efforts to triangulate between the two sides.
In remarks, officials described the collaboration as purely focused on finding ways to allow AAVs to assist the work of Spanish police in serving society.
“AAV technology holds the promise to significantly improve our capability in emergency and security missions, such as firefighting, accessing contaminated areas with nuclear, radiological, bacteriological or chemical risks, landing in confined areas, transporting material, and other police services that may require agile mobility,” said an official the EHang press release only identified as the Chief Commissioner of the Air Vehicles Unit of Spanish National Police. “The application of the AAV technology makes the Spanish National Police a vanguard among police using AAV technology nationally and internationally.”
Victoria Xiang, EHang CEO for Spain and Latin America concurred, calling the looming arrival of AAV in daily life perfectly timed to respond to many of the world’s swift-developing challenges.
“The application of AAVs in emergency, national security matters, and the fight against the pandemic is crucial and advantageous for the public sector,” she said. “Autonomous, sustainable, and efficient mobility enables the authorities to execute their tasks in an environmentally friendly manner. EHang and the Spanish National Police will work jointly to leverage this cutting-edge technology to benefit citizens and society.”
As they explore those uses, EHang and the Policia Nacional will examine how AAV can be deployed in emergency situations like search and rescue, surveillance, and other critical and time-sensitive missions. They’ll be joined in that effort by experts from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, who will assist with applied trial flights and case analyses of craft performance, and finding ways of both accelerating and enhancing their eventual deployment.
Before making the announcement, EHang made the first Spanish exhibition flight of its 216 passenger-grade AAV at the Cuatro Vientos Aerodrome in Madrid. As a teaser to the following announcement, the 216 craft was decked out with the insignia and name of Spain’s Policia Nacional.